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Craft and Company ran out of miracles this time

Mar 30, 2013, 10:52 PM EDT

Wichita State v Ohio State Getty Images

Ohio State junior point guard Aaron Craft has established a bit of a pattern in the NCAA tournament. As the Buckeyes faced down Iowa State in the Round of 32, it was Craft who pulled up with the game on the line and coolly buried the game-winning three point shot. Against Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen, Craft saw LaQuinton Ross open on the wing and fed the hot hand – it was another dramatic three-point splashdown to save the Buckeyes’ title hopes.

Not this time. Not against Wichita State, the No. 9 seed stocked with freshmen and transfers. The Shockers pulled out to a sizeable lead, as high as 20 points in the second half, which gave the Buckeyes a chance to rev up their eye-popping comeback mojo machine, and it looked like Craft and Company would do it again.

Craft nailed a trey with :06 left on the game clock to get the score to 70-66, and when WSU’s Tekele Cotton missed both free throws on the other end of the floor, Craft had another shot at closing the final gap. This time, however, the hole was too deep. The Buckeyes needed four points to play on, and Craft’s three – which missed – wouldn’t have changed the outcome even if another prayer had fallen in.

In the end, Craft’s past caught up with him. He hit only two shots – both of them from behind the arc – throughout the game, and had as many turnovers to his credit as assists. That was too much wrong to be put right before the clock ran out. Sometimes – most of the time, in fact – it’s better to be consistently good than consistently lucky.

Craft’s teammates were a mixed bag in this one, too. DeShaun Thomas, a CBT preseason All-America choice, went for 23 points on the interior, and sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross continued a string of solid postseason performances by knocking in 19 from all areas of the floor. In the end, two solid performances simply weren’t enough to get the Buckeyes back to the Final Four.

Thad Matta may have yet another shot at the brass ring next season. Thomas, despite his accolades, is rated by DraftExpress as the 62nd-best  NBA prospect in the nation, and Craft is well behind him, ranked 88th. With Ross developing into a dangerous player, and Thomas and Craft back, Matta will have a perfect three-man core to build his next title contender around. Perhaps even one that doesn’t have to rely on the buzzer-beater to advance into late March.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

  1. barkleyblows - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:06 PM

    Doesn’t matter if you play a girls JV basketball team or the great Kentucky class coming in next year…. when you shoot 25% for the game, you will lose. Just ask Marquette.

    • dexterismyhero - Mar 31, 2013 at 8:48 AM

      @CoachCalBows: Robert Morris!

  2. packhawk04 - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    Ohio state had a final four giftwrapped by the selection committee out west… such a shame.

  3. barkleyblows - Mar 30, 2013 at 11:59 PM

    Clearly the whole west bracket was a joke. Pretty much like every sport/sports team out west. This is what happens when you leave Kentucky out of it. A division II girls basketball team makes it to the final four.

    • shockerinpa - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:23 AM

      Sooooo……you’re implying that Kentucky couldn’t even make a region that hosted what you, in your inbred ignorance, consider a D-II girls’ team? I’d hate to meet your girlfriend.

      Your Pussycats should stick with playing Brownie Troop 13. Get some homegrown refs, too, so you have a chance.

    • florida727 - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      #barkley, you need to stay off the message boards. Your ignorance is showing. You guys lost to Bobby Mo in the FIRST ROUND OF THE NOT-INVITED-TOURNAMENT. And you think you’d have done better in the West Region of the real tournament? You’re genuinely delusional (look it up, I’m guessing you don’t use multiple syllable words often). Kentucky sucked this year. The one-and-done mentality might get you the occasional SEC or national title, but it’ll be the exception, not the rule. Enjoy mediocrity. It’ll be an annual event. BTW, is it true your football team lost its spring scrimmage?

      #shockerinpa, you’re thinking he HAS a girlfriend? Wow. That one caught me off guard. Good catch. Good luck in the Final Four. Your guys EARNED it. Hope you can go to it. I’ve been to a few. Awesome experience. Hope we see you there :)

  4. packhawk04 - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    We already know what happens when you leave kentucky out. They go lose to something called robert morris.

    • shockerinpa - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:49 AM

      Hey now….you’re not giving R Morris enough credit. They actually have a decent program with a coach who knows it’s about making the best of his team and not himself Unlike the Mildcats of Kentucky…..

      The more I read Sir Charles’ fan’s comments, the more I think he’s a Mildcat fan wannabe. Heck, even Kentucky must have its limits as to whom it allows as a fan.

  5. barkleyblows - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Haha last years national champions and next years. We will be lucky to lose a game next year with atleast 6 of the top 20 players coming in. I feel bad for you chumps! Have fun watching your division II girls basketball team!

    • woodstakes - Mar 31, 2013 at 1:17 AM

      Yup and then the following year you’ll go lose to another Kentucky High School team in the state tourney… then the next year you’ll have a chance… then its back to High School tourney again. Soon or later the 1 and Done is going to bite your team on the ass and it did this year and unless your real lucky it won’t happen again next year. But starting 5 new guys every year, no matter how good of high school players they were/are, is a guarantee that your making the final four. Last year Kentucky team was a fluke.. yup i’m calling it right here.. next year Kentucky maybe makes the BIG DANCE again, but will not make the Sweet 16 and we’ll all be laughing our asses off as you guys watch all the talent leave and the following year its back to the NIT to lose to some school with 5 seniors!

  6. barkleyblows - Mar 31, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    So what your saying is………….. You would rather not win a championship every other year?

    Sorry I’ll take my championship followed by an NIT game followed by another championship. Jealousy gets you nowhere in life!

    • florida727 - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      The problem with Kentucky fans is that you all live in the past. If that’s how you want to argue your position, then all UCLA fans would like to tell you to just shut the f— up because we have ELEVEN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, including TEN OUT OF TWELVE, and SEVEN IN A ROW. So your accomplishments, if you want to call them that, pale in comparison. See, all of a sudden, you’re not so impressive anymore.

      if you’d prefer to live in the present, then, again, just shut the f— up, because you lost to Bobby Mo in the FIRST ROUND of the N.I.-freaking-T. Face it, you suck.

  7. florida727 - Mar 31, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    For the record, Aaron Craft is hands-down the most overrated player out there. Horrible shooter and that’s exactly what Wichita State did… let him shoot OSU to a loss. Game winner against Iowa State? No pressure. The worst a miss would do is send the game to overtime. If Arizona had half a brain, they’d have guarded the hot hand, not a marginal (at best) shooter. Then again, that’s why WSU is booking airfare to Atlanta and Arizona is watching on TV. WSU knew they’d never lose if the game was put in Craft’s hands.

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